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January 3, 1437 – Death of Catherine of Valois, Queen of England, wife of King Henry V of England, at the Abbey of St. Saviour in Bermondsey, London, England; buried at Westminster Abbey in London, England
Catherine was the daughter of King Charles VI of France. Most notable of Catherine’s siblings is King Charles VII of France who was the Dauphin helped by Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War and Isabella of Valois who was the second wife and widow of King Richard II of England. In 1420, Catherine married King Henry V of England. The following year, Catherine gave birth to their only child, the future King Henry VI of England. In 1422, King Henry V died of dysentery, nine days before his 36th birthday and his son King Henry VI at the age of nine months started his 40 years on the throne. Catherine was left a widow at the age of 21. With Catherine being a young widow and with apparently no chance of remarriage, it should not seem unusual that she began an amorous relationship with Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudor, a Welsh soldier and courtier who served in her household. There is much debate as to whether Catherine and Owen married. No documentation of marriage exists and even if they did marry, their marriage would not have been legal due to the act regarding the remarriage of a queen dowager. Owen and Catherine had at least six children, Through their son Edmund Tudor descended King Henry VII of England and the Tudor Dynasty. Through their great-granddaughter Margaret Tudor descended the British royal family and many other European royal families. Catherine died at the age of 36, following the birth of her last child, a daughter who died soon after her birth.
Unofficial Royalty: Catherine of Valois, Queen of England
January 3, 1701 – Death of Prince Louis I of Monaco in Rome, Italy; buried at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco
Nine-year-old Louis became heir apparent to the throne of Monaco when his father Hercule Grimaldi, Marquis of Baux, the only child and the heir of Honoré II, Prince of Monaco, was killed accidentally in a firearms accident. Louis married Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont, from a French noble family and the couple had six children. After a reign of fifty-eight years, Honoré II, Prince of Monaco, Louis’ grandfather, died in 1662, and 20-year-old Louis became Prince of Monaco. Following the example of King Louis XIV’s legal codification efforts in France, Louis I issued the Principality of Monaco’s first legal code, known as the Code Louis, in 1678. In 1699, King Louis XIV of France named Louis the ambassador of the King of France to the Holy See in Rome. Louis I, aged 58, died on January 3, 1701, in Rome, then part of the Papal States, from apoplexy, the term formerly referred to what is now called a stroke.
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Louis I of Monaco
January 3, 1754 – Birth of Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Oldenburg at Eutin Castle in the Principality of Holstein-Gottorp, now in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Full name: Peter Friedrich Wilhelm
Wilhelm was the first Grand Duke of Oldenburg, although he never formally used the title. By 1777, Wilhelm was suffering from mental illness. An intended engagement to Princess Charlotte of Hesse-Darmstadt was called off. He lived the remainder of his life in seclusion. Upon his father’s death in 1785, Wilhelm became the reigning Duke of Oldenburg but due to his illness, it was in name only. Instead, his cousin, Peter, Prince-Bishop of Lübeck, served as Regent during his entire reign.
Unofficial Royalty: Peter Friedrich Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Oldenburg
January 3, 1865 – Death of Maria Ferdinanda of Saxony, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, second wife of Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany at the Chateau Brandýs nad Labem in the Kingdom of Bohemia, now in the Czech Republic; buried at theCapuchin Church in Imperial Crypt in Vienna, Austria
Maria Ferdinanda’s younger sister Maria Anna was to marry the future Leopoldo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, son of Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. However, Maria Anna was so terrified at the idea of meeting her bridegroom that she refused to leave Saxony unless her sister Maria Ferdinanda accompanied her. During the wedding celebrations, Maria Ferdinanda caught the eye of the groom’s father Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany who was twenty-seven years older than Maria Ferdinanda. Four years later, when his son Leopoldo and his wife Maria Anna had not produced any children, Ferdinando decided to marry twenty years after the death of his first wife. He chose Maria Ferdinanda as his second wife and they were married in 1821 but their marriage remained childless. Maria Ferdinanda became a widow at the age of twenty-eight but she never remarried. In 1859, the Grand Ducal family was forced to flee Tuscany because of the wars caused by the Italian unification movement. The Grand Duchy of Tuscany became part of the new, united Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Maria Ferdinanda lived partly in the Kingdom of Bohemia, part of the Austrian Empire, and also in Dresden at the court of her brother King Johann of Saxony. She survived her husband by forty-one years, dying at the age of 68.
Unofficial Royalty: Maria Ferdinanda of Saxony, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
January 3, 1981 – Death of Princess Alice of Albany, Countess of Athlone, the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria, at Kensington Palace in London, England; buried at the Royal Burial Grounds, Frogmore in Windsor, England
January 3, 1981 saw the end of an era. On that day the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria and the longest-lived person of the Blood Royal of the British Royal Family died at the age of 97, one month short of her 98th birthday. Princess Alice of Albany, Countess of Athlone had lived through six reigns: Queen Victoria (grandmother), King Edward VII (uncle), King George V (first cousin and brother-in-law), King Edward VIII (first cousin once removed and nephew by marriage), King George VI (first cousin once removed and nephew by marriage) and Queen Elizabeth II (first cousin twice removed and great-niece by marriage). Princess Alice was the daughter of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, son of Queen Victoria, and Princess Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont. In 1904, Alice married Prince Alexander of Teck (after 1917 Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone), the brother of Queen Mary, King George V’s wife. The couple had three children. Unfortunately, Alice passed hemophilia to her son Rupert who died from injuries received in a car accident which he probably would have survived had he not had hemophilia.
Unofficial Royalty: Princess Alice of Albany, Countess of Athlone
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